PLEASE PLAY WHILE READING
In 1897 architect George White had a vision of a Richardsonian Romanesque style building for the Town Hall of Carleton Place. For a mere $26,000 he built the breathtaking structure to include a wonderful concert auditorium with a ceiling of pressed metal. Not only was there mosaic encaustic flooring and fancy woodwork, but the Council Chamber was often called the "Red Chamber" because of the fine pine woodwork with a red satin finish.
Sitting on the south shore of the Ontario Mississippi River this building of beauty also held its silent mysteries. There were whispers of a secret window and of course the Carleton Place jail existed in that very building until a new one was built on Coleman Street.
Carleton Place had its shenanigans like any other town and dangerous criminals came and went through the old jail. Charges of vagrancy and horse stealing were common in those days but so were murders.
In 1903 Nelson Williams was arrested for what was called a most unfortunate stabbing and in 1906 George Bradley was charged with manslaughter in the death of John Bradley. Barely a year later John Johnston was charged with shooting and killing Carleton Wall and people spoke in hushed tones of the evil that entered and exited the old building.
Sometimes the cries of the insane echoed through the halls of the jail. It was noted 1909 was a banner year with Robert Marten, John A McDonald, Edith Boyle, and Robert Turner charged with insanity and housed in that very jail until they could be transferred to the Brockville Insane Asylum. I imagine some were so troubled they would eye the steep pitched roof of slate and think of suicide. Did some of these lost souls return to their old cells after their deaths?
Long before the Town Hall was built, a servant girl at the Leland Hotel, Sarah Marselles, was killed in October of 1873. While attempting to retrieve wood for the stove from a wood box, she inadvertently bumped a loaded rifle which discharged, killing her instantly. Some say a female shadow wanders the Town Hall park at night. Did Sarah find solace in the darkness of this heritage building, or did she just need to hear the peaceful flow of the Mississippi River to calm her soul.
Some visitors have reported the feeling of being watched and there is the odd cold spot and freak gust of wind within the building. There is no doubt the spirits of former prisoners still drift around the corridors of the building seeking some sort of peace. But in reality 'aren't ghosts like true love? Everyone talks about them but few have ever seen.' Maybe they are just running up imaginary stairs for an eternity only to find there will be more to climb to seek what they are looking for.
Quote by:Francois de La Rochefoucauld
Criminal Activity Information from the personal handwritten files of Howard Morton Brown, author of "Founded Upon a Rock-Carleton Place Memories."
Photos by Linda Seccaspina
The Carleton Place & Beckwith Heritage Museum
Email Us: email@example.com
Call us at (613)253-7013
267 Edmund Street, Carleton Place ON
"Walking With Ghosts" is a series of Carleton Place ghost stories in anticipation of an October Ghost Walk. If you can help--contact the Museum.
OTHER CARLETON PLACE/ APPLETON GHOST STORIES-- Two new ones added this week that I found in my files!